There is a famous cliché that reads “numbers never lie,” and for most of the time that is absolutely correct. For instance, Landon Donovan is considered one of, if not the greatest MLS player of all time. The numbers clearly back that theory up as he has the most goals, assists, and game-winning goals in MLS history.
However, on the other hand, a few weeks ago Everton played Manchester City in the English Premier League. Man City held over 70% possession, doubled the amount of shots on goal, and more than doubled the amount of total shots compared to Everton. Statistically, City was in control of the game, and yet they lost 4-0. In this case, the numbers told a huge lie.
This is not the only time that the number do in fact lie, either. There are numerous players in every sport and every league around the world that are vital pieces of their teams’ puzzle, but do not have the numbers to match their production.
Each of the five players below are center pieces for their respective teams, but are often left behind in the statistical race. Presenting the five most underrated players in Major League Soccer:
5. Kyle Beckerman, MF, Real Salt Lake
At one time, Beckerman was considered an elite MLS defensive midfielder. Now he is considered old and slow. In his 17 years in MLS, Beckerman has never been in double digits in goals or assists. He has never been selected to an MLS Best XI. He has never been given any individual awards.
But what Beckerman brings to Real Salt Lake cannot be reproduced by any other player in the league — he does the dirty work. And he does it better than anyone else in MLS history. Beckerman has 124 more fouls and 12 more yellow cards than any other player in MLS history. He sits in the hole between the midfield and defense, and either the ball will get by him or the man will, but not both. He has more appearances than any other outfield MLS player, and RSL will look towards him in 2017 to make another playoff run.
4. Sam Cronin, MF, Colorado Rapids
Cronin is another one of those guys that has been in the league forever and loves to do the dirty work. The 30-year-old holding midfielder has been a crucial part of every team he has been on, helping San Jose to the 2012 Supporters’ Shield and Colorado to the 2016 MLS Western Conference finals last season. He is not a big name in the league, but where Cronin goes, the wins follow.
3. Keegan Rosenberry, D, Philadelphia Union
Seattle’s Jordan Morris ran away with the 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year award, and he is well deserving of the award, but Union supporters feel as if their man got cheated by the higher-profile player. Rosenberry played in every minute of MLS play in 2016 and was a key reason why Philly made the playoffs. Going forward, Rosenberry should be on every U.S. Men’s National Team from now until Russia, but as Zusi is being moved to right back, Rosenberry is being overlooked.
2. Dax McCarty, MF, Chicago Fire
Dax was recently traded to Chicago, and there is not a better way to describe the type of player that he is than his former teammate Bradley Wright-Phillips did:
"Dax is a player you can't replace, and I'm not talking about football-wise, just everything he's done for that team in the changing room, on and off the field. He can't be replaced, so it's a tough one.
“There were times last season where we were losing our way a bit, and Dax is the guy who gets you on track, gets you back to where you're supposed to be headed.”
Dax will help Chicago back to its winning ways, but don’t expect him to be the hype of the league.
1. Joe Bendik, GK, Orlando City
If Bendik wasn’t the goalkeeper for the worst defense in the league, he may have won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016 and he might have been in the USMNT January camp right now. Bendik had the second most saves in 2016, brought home 11 MLS Save of the Week awards, as well as the MLS Save of the Year. But it was his 60 goals against that made the league overlook him. Anyone who has seen Orlando City play, however, knows that Bendik is a top-quality goalkeeper. If he can repeat his performance in 2017, he will not be underrated anymore.